Moscow and Iran are not known to have actively discussed the establishment of Russian bases on Iran’s Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea shores. But since the Georgia crisis erupted, certain military tacticians and strategic planners in both capitals are beginning to explore the option. And as Caucasian and Black Sea rancor sharpens between the United States, NATO and Russia, it is taking practical shape.
Proposed are two Russian military bases – one in Eastern Azerbaijan, which is situated in northern Iran on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea; the second on the Persian Gulf island of Qeshm.
The first would provide Moscow with an observation post for tracking military activities in the neighboring republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
The second would be a forward position for monitoring US and NATO movements in the Gulf, Iraq and neighboring Arab states.
Moscow would offer for the bases assistance in the deployment of air defense and missile defense systems along Iran’s borders, including the sale of S-400 SAMs.
The United States and Israel would then have to think twice before embarking on a military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations for fear of incurring a clash with Russian forces based on Qeshm.
In considering these bases, Tehran will not doubt be swayed by reports that Georgia has secretly given the US and Israel carte blanche for using its territory to launch missile and bombing attacks on Iranian facilities.
The two powers have a trading interest in common. Together Russia and Iran, the first and second largest owners of natural gas reserves, can speed up the establishment of a gas producers’ cartel and hold the world to ransom on prices.